The first test for the top two
One didnÈt have long to wait to see the two best players in the world face each other for the first time in the new season.
I haven't saved five match points many times. He should have finished it off.
Both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic arrived in the final of the Qatar Open with reasonable ease following a week which actually saw Murray, as world number one, facing tougher opposition than his rival Djokovic, who came through his three matches to reach the semi-finals, without dropping a set.
In what will be their 36th meeting with Djokovic holding the upper hand with 24 victories but Murray has been able to turn the tables recently, especially in London where he confirmed his standing at the top of the rankings.
In the semis, Murray was hardly tested as he swept aside Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-4 to secure his 28th consecutive win since last September while earlier, in the late afternoon, Djokovic battled hard to get past Fernando Verdasco but eventually did to win 4-6 7-6(7) 6-3 after saving five match points in what eventually turned out to be over two hous and 22-minutes, an exciting contest.
All those match points came in the tie-break and Djokovic admitted later, that he should have lost. “I haven’t saved five match points many times. He (Verdasco) should have finished it off.
The records show that he has in fact saved that number of match points on one previous occasion.
He added: “It’s definitely one of the most exciting matches I have played. I’m obviously very pleased, because you need these kind of matches, these kind of confidence boosters, for whatever is coming up after that.”
He described the final with Murray would be a “perfect match-up” in view of the fast approaching Australian Open where the Serb is the defending champion and Murray a five-time finalist.
The British number one agreed that it would be a great match to look forward to.
He added: “It’s a great test tomorrow. To start the year it’s great to play against one of the best in the world.”
While his win over Berdych looked comfortable, he had problems with the windy conditions but adjusted better than Djokovic had in his earlier match. Those conditions could well prove a factor in SaturdayÈs final but one Murray should be able to master better than Djokovic.
Meanwhile Aljaz Bedene , who has reached the last eight at Chennai Open in his five previous appearances, was unable to add a sixth as he lost in the quarter-finals to the fifth seed Benoit Paire, 6-3 6-0.